Welcome: » Travelogue » USA » Nash/NYC/Chic/Mem 2011 » It’s A People Day, 3/18/11, Memphis, TN

It’s A People Day, 3/18/11, Memphis, TN

Coffee (it’s a staple) for breakfast and out the door to St. John’s Episcopal church. This will be a quick day of shooting.

I stop at the Church of the Annunciation on the way to be sure I can shoot later in the day – Talk with Eileen and I am good until 4 pm.

At St. John’s I find Karl in the parking lot having a smoke. He tells me a few stories about the bad quality of the neighborhood saying it is the second worse in Memphis. It doesn’t seem that bad to me from what I have seen so far.

He takes me inside the church and shows me the lighting so I can adjust it how I want it. That is cool. He talks a bit showing me a few more rooms to consider documenting and then leaves me to take lunch.

w_stjohnsfoyerxg5z7336 I get a few shots made when a woman comes in and asks me what I am doing. I tell her. She starts giving me more history of the murals. She leaves but shortly returns with literature about the murals AND a book (still in shrink-wrap) written about the church history and the murals in particular.

I never knew they were such a big deal. I am starting to see that they are.

The lady leaves.

Owen and Elizabeth enter to practice their music, he on piano, she on cello. This is a nice backdrop as I return to shooting.

Another lady comes in and asks me what I am doing. She tells me I can’t be photographing, as I needed to go to the office first and sign papers. I am again being asked why I am doing this and how the pictures are to be used. So I explain again.

My first inclination is aggravation for the red tape and the interference of my work. That is my first impulse, though I politely agree to the procedure (I haven’t a choice really) –I feel my responses border on sharpness that betray that I am aggravated by what I consider a set back to an otherwise smooth day.  It would help me to learn NOT to be this way. Time and time again I am taught that God has better things for me than I think I have arranged myself. I saw this already on this trip with St. Patrick’s in Chicago. What an amazing story of timing that was. From being locked out last year to what happened this year (but I digress as I am writing this statement as an afterthought and in retrospect … the truth is, I am being walked to the office at St. John’s in Memphis, and I am not happy for the interruption to my workflow or to seemingly having my motives called into question.) w_stjohnchairxg5z7347

After talking a bit with Stepahnie, the woman in charge, I show her some of the photos I have taken so far and it is a photo of a chair that catches her eye. She takes me to Father John to show him that photo.

Father John, the Rector of St. John’s, and I begin a conversation that lasts nearly an hour – a deep and insightful conversation that starts in the office, moves to the vestments room, and finally into the sanctuary. We talk history, theology, art… it is the crown jewel moment of my time at St. John’s. A gift. A note of Grace.

John tells me of his first church in Alabama – a small and plain country church where they used to leave out the silver and adornments sometimes as close as eight feet from the door. The door was open and people came and used the church to pray throughout the day and through the evenings. The police would patrol by knowing the activity and just to keep an eye on it. People came there to pray because they felt something special there – an intentionality. Never was anything stolen nor was there vandalism.

So I didn’t just make this idea of a church up. I was beginning to think I had. I was thinking I had it confused with some Jimmy Stewart movie I saw that left an imprint on my memory as a child.

w_stjohnsbaptismal_mg_7316 Confirmation.  Once again I am relieved that I am not “stark raving mad” contrary to what some would hold as my long list of descriptors.

Fr. John gives me yet more insight to the artist/muralist John Henry DeRosen.

I am writing a bit more than usual, better to go back to log format.

I mention to John that I would love it if he would write some of what he has shared with me on the FBA website.

He agrees and says he would like to.  Here is some of John : http://johnwsewell.blogspot.com/ and http://bengalsr.tumblr.com/

My day is blessed.

I finish up my photo assignment while Owen plays Beethoven Variations on a Theme by Handel, “Judas Maccabaeus” on a 1893 reconditioned Steinway. Life could be worse.

A day of high culture at St. John’s Episcopal in Memphis.

I go to the office to sign the promissory contract and we change it to allow my permission for blogs and books.

I don’t have time to say good-bye and thanks to Karl as I only have an hour left for the Church of the Ascension (out of 3.5 hours at St. John’s I only shot for 30 minutes).


Get to Church of the Ascension (a Greek Orthodox), and Alberto turns on the lights. wed_xg5z7475

I hunt the essence. The last shots are my favorites – this trip – Memphis: empty seating. This photo titled, “Ed.”

I leave to Savannah’s Mom’s house where family gathers for both Felicity’s birthday (11) and the Tigers game (the college basketball team is in the playoffs – Memphis shuts down to watch-it is a big deal). At the house the game is on projector screen, seasoned Dorritos and M&Ms abound.

Savannah makes me a sandwich and her Mom gets me a Coke Zero. My first meal of the day.

Tiger’s lose.

I meet Kary (Savannah’s Dad) and Debra (Mom), Karry’s Mom Gladys (Grandma), Katelynn  (younger sister) and her bo, Jason (both of whom I met last night but was too tired to write about), Felicity (youngest sister), Cousins and Aunts, David the Uncle in the Navy, and Hillary (older sister) with whom I talk much of the dinner time as her degree is in Literature with a minor in art history, and she paints, and has traveled – so the conversation is of similar interest.

Food and conversation all night with everyone is good and goes on to the later part of the evening.

Did I mention I have a weakness for M&M’s – and so does Amydog.

This entry was posted in Nash/NYC/Chic/Mem 2011, USA. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. sista cindi
    Posted March 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    thank you God for Jeff.
    He helps me remember how busy you are – and what we are supposed to be doing in this life.

    [love you bro!]

  2. Jeff
    Posted March 19, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    You just made it all worth it for me! Thank you for that prayer.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>